Issues & Insights

A Handy Media Guide To Covering (Up) Democratic Scandals

I&I Editorial

In the week after the New York Post published its damaging report on Hunter Biden, the New York Times has run a grand total of five news stories on the topic.

The first report started this way: “The Biden campaign on Wednesday rejected a New York Post report about Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter that the nation’s leading social media companies deemed so dubious that they limited access to the article on their platforms.”

Two of the other stories focused on the social media angle. Another hinted that the scandal was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The fifth was about how some reporters at the New York Post had “questioned the credibility” of the story.

Whatever you think of the New York Post or Donald Trump or Joe Biden, this story is what we in the news business call “news.” Yet the rest of the mainstream press handled it almost exactly as the Times did – as an inconvenience.

Those of us who’ve been around awhile have come to notice a similar pattern when it comes to every other scandal involving Democrats. So here, as a reader service, is a handy media guide to how the press covers — or more appropriately, covers up — Democratic scandals.

1. Ignore the story as long as possible. The first step in reporing a Democratic scandal is to not cover it at all. Keep it contained among bloggers and the conservative press in hopes that it doesn’t go anywhere. A perfect example of this was the Biden town hall held right after the Post story broke during which ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Biden zero questions about the report.

2. Devote minimal resources to covering it. When ignoring the story isn’t a possibility, devote minimal resources to it. By all means, don’t assign investigative reporters to cover it, lest they dig up something else. The mainstream press initially justified its lack of coverage of the substance of the Post report by claiming that it hadn’t verified the story. That’s easy to do when you don’t lift a finger to actually verify it. As the Post wrote in an editorial: “Don’t ask too many questions, and you can dismiss it all as ‘unverified.’ ”

3. Focus on the denials. The first story in Politico about the Post story was “Biden campaign lashes out at the New York Post.” The Times’ headline was “Allegation on Biden Prompts Pushback From Social Media Companies.”

Related: Even As Media Work To Ignore It, Biden Scandal Just Keeps Growing

4. Attack the messenger. In the case of the Post story, mainstream news outlets were more interested in trashing Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani than in determining the veracity of the emails he was revealing, claiming he was a stooge spreading Russian disinformation. The Washington Post’s initial coverage ran under the headline: “White House was warned Giuliani was target of Russian intelligence operation to feed misinformation to Trump.” The Daily Beast’s contribution said that “Bolton Warned His Staff To Stay Away From Russia-Aligned Rudy Giuliani.”

5. Play up doubts. Rather than chase down the facts of the scandal, the New York Times sent reporters to investigate the Post. The result was a story headlined “New York Post Published Hunter Biden Report Amid Newsroom Doubts.”

6. Cast it in a partisan light. If a scandal involves a Democrat, the press can always be counted on to dismiss it as part of some Republican strategy to distract voters from the important issues.   

7. Set an incredibly high bar for what constitutes wrongdoing. If nothing else, the Hunter emails suggest that Joe Biden flat out lied when he claimed he’d had nothing to do with Hunter’s business dealings. Yet while the press keeps track of every utterance of Trump’s that it can claim to be untrue, Biden’s apparent flagrant and self-serving lie is treated as a nothingburger.

8. Do the opposite of No. 7 if the scandal involves a Republican.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If it weren’t for double standards, the mainstream media would have no standards at all.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Double standards, nothing. We’re up to triple and quadruple standards at this point. Layers and layers of protection for Biden.

    But who’s surprised? It’s been going on for decades. I worked with people who did volunteer media work for Bush I in 1992, and reporters openly acknowledged that they were in the tank for Clinton and weren’t going to write anything that hurt him.

    • Yes, and now Harris and Schumer are also involved in the same deals with China.
      What a cozy arrangement for all of them…

  • Everyone who follows political analysis knows that mainstream media is hopelessly biased toward liberal opinion. When I was in diapers, I naively thought that fair play might right the ship, but that boat capsized decades ago and the flotsam from the foundering still floats by when Democrats fear embarrassment. I wonder if we should stop hectoring them with articles like this; after all, they are so much smarter, better informed and erudite than us. Perhaps the fact that they are often wrong and never in doubt plays to our strengths, as when plain-talking Donald Trump laid waste to the progressive peloton of the oh-so-savvy.

  • Oh, it is not a double standard at all. The standard is that they must prevail, whatever the means, whatever the cost. Any lie or truth that serves that end is not merely justified, but mandatory. Once upon a time we would say that while the ends have to justify the means to attain them, there were some means that could not be justified at all. That has long gone. Now the ends justify any means.

  • As I keep saying, I don’t know whether the media is/are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, or it’s the other way round, but it’s obvious the they are in cahoots.

      • This is a pathetic argument. Drive by smears much more applicable to their dementia impaired candidate. The Decent world? Like who Georgieboy? The Eurotrash that exported their deadly and evil ideologies like socialism and fascism. The despots and tyrants in the UN? Give me Americanism,informed Patriotism, Enlightenment and the Founders timeless wisdom in the Constitution every day, all day.

  • The last step is, when a story finally breaks wide after the months of stonewalling, deride it as, “Old news. Stop living in the past. It’s time to move on.”

  • 1. Ignore the story as long as possible.

    While the MSM (incl. Faux Nooz) might do this to aid & abet their leftist friends, OAN has no issue reporting on scandals.

  • For #5, a perfect example is NPR’s tweet that they would not be covering the story as it is “a waste of its viewers time” as it is nothing but “a distraction.”

    And one additional phase that democrats always engage in to minimize damaging news: after a few months goes by, someone will no doubt bring up the scandal again and the media silence on it, at which point the leftist outlet will say, “We’ve already covered that story.” In their archives, you’ll find “coverage” similar to that in points 2, 3, and 4.

  • Hi, I’m the ghost of Saul Alinsky and want to thank you for issuing your “Handy Media Guide”. This guide should be a worthy addendum to my famous book “Rules For Radicals”. Many new young communists will get a rich indoctrination when reading my book with your media guide added in. Thanks, your faithful comrade Saul

    • As a 76 year old liberal and Vietnam vet, I find it hilarious that conservatives assume this guy had any effect on anyone. The first time I even heard his name and the only times I hear his name are in conservative media. They have scared themselves.

      • Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to him when she was 23. She followed his principles, outlined in Rules for Radicals. She couldn’t wait to meet him. Her political philosophy was guided by his radical positions on politics. Sorry you missed all that. It is easy to research. Now you know he had an effect on Hillary. You’re welcome.

  • Step 1: Accuse Trump – of whatever it is your guy is accused of. Trump: (with no pants on) “Biden stole my pants” – Biden: (while wearing Trumps pants) “NO – YOU STOLE MY PANTS. PANTS STEALER!!!”

  • The media is covering it…with a pillow…hoping it will stop breathing soon.

  • At the heart of this, in NYC, is that the people at the Slimes hate the Post for their attacks on what it has become. It is just another arm of the Democrat Party and has always been loose with the truth. There have been many pieces in the Post pointing out the slide of the Times, both as a paper and as a business.

  • This might have all mattered if Trump had divested himself of his business interests and released his tax returns at the beginning of his term, did not have a previously undisclosed Chinese bank account on which he paid more in taxes To the Chinese state than he he did to the US state, and had not appointed family members to key government posts.

    Then when all this ‘Hunter’s laptop’ stuff dropped it would be ‘look at the contrast between what Trump is doing and Biden is doing’. Instead, for the reasons mentioned above, it’s ‘look, Trump and Biden are pretty much doing the same shady stuff, but [insert conservative/liberal media outlet] only wants me to be mad at one of them, because they’re clearly in the tank for the other’

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